by Al Quack
Al Quack in National uniform with daughter Susan
Jeri in EAL Uniform Miami 1959
Al in ONA Uniform 1966
Love on the job! Jeri & Al Quack celebrated 50
Years Wedding Anniversary in May 2009!
They met while both were flying for Eastern!
Incident Took Place
(Mid Air Collision)
It happened while flying for Eastern Air Lines as a Flight Engineer on a Lockheed Electra (Turbo-Prop), in the spring of 1961. Our trip was scheduled Boston to Atlanta with an overnight layover, then back to Boston the next day. The flight down to Atlanta was on Easter Sunday and a beautiful clear blue sky with no clouds the whole way down. We were on an instrument flight plan and as we approached Atlanta our enroute (Radio) Center, gave us a VHF frequency to call Atlanta Center on, for our approach instructions. While following his instructions for heading and descend to altitude 150 (15,000’) and maintain that altitude. We also heard him talking to another Eastern flight, which turned out to be a DC-8 jet approaching Atlanta too for landing. This was our Co-Pilots leg to fly and he had the aircraft on autopilot, as was usual at this stage of flight. About this time a complete shadow came over our cockpit, we all looked at each other and said “what the”. As soon as the shadow came over our cockpit the Co-Pilot immediately reached up and grabbed the control yoke and clicked the autopilot off, then hit the right rudder pedal skidding the aircraft to the right. Within a second our whole windshield was completely full of an Eastern DC-8’s right wing, two jet engines exhausts one on either side of our windshield coming right down on us, as they were in a flat slow decent through our altitude. How we missed each other was a miracle and what our Co-Pilot did to evade it probably saved both aircraft from colliding in mid air and killing everybody on both planes. I could see how the Headlines would read after the accident, “Two Eastern Air Line planes Collide in Mid Air”, “And both on Instrument Flight Plans and on a Clear Day with no Clouds”. It was so close that I could even see the rivets (that’s close!!) on the DC-8 and the next thing I thought I would hear was crashing metal to metal. Within a few moments we all three realized just how lucky we were and nobody on either plane except us three, had any idea how close they just came to dying a few moments earlier, as the DC-8 passed down right over us going the same direction as us and nobody on either plane even if they were looking out their window, couldn’t of seen the plane below them or seen the plane above them. Our Captain got on the radio immediately asking Atlanta Center if they had us on radar? They said yes, but when the Captain asked him what position do you show us, he just stammered around not giving us any actual position. We surmised that this being Easter Sunday that probably the third string (very junior controllers) were on duty at the Atlanta Center and cleared the DC-8 down through our altitude not knowing where we were exactly, till maybe finally seeing two radar blips come together on his screen and then holding his breath. After we landed and secured our aircraft we all three walked over to the Eastern DC-8 on the ramp that we almost collided with at 15,000 feet, a short time before. We got all three crewmembers out on the ramp and told them how we almost met them all at 15,000 feet and just how close it really was. Of course they didn’t see us at all as they were in a flat decent, but the Captain of the DC-8 said they thought something was wrong when we kept asking Atlanta Center if he had us on radar and what was our position if so. Our Captain then called Atlanta Center after we got to our Hotel and told them what happened and he didn’t want to get anybody in trouble there at the Center, but when he gets back to Boston tomorrow he has a few days off, so he told them he would come back down to talk to them about what almost happened and then all try to figure out what went wrong, so it doesn’t happen again. Well, I talked to my Captain a few weeks later and asked him what the outcome was after he went back down to Atlanta Center and talked to them. He said they must of thought he was coming down to get somebody fired, as a lot of the Center tapes of the conversations between them and us were erased and he received no help from anybody there. So it was a waste of his time and effort, but he only wanted to find out what went wrong and make sure it didn’t happen again.